This investor turned entrepreneur’s tech-logistics startup is streamlining operations for 500-plus businesses
While working for PWC as a strategy consultant in the logistics industry, Sanjay Bhatia found there were a number of bottlenecks faced in shipping goods overseas. It was one problem that the 29-year-old wanted to find a solution for. So, while working for Solera Partners and Everstone Capital, he learnt about different technology-based business models that could solve the various problems faced by importers and exporters in logistics and shipping.
“After spending some time researching the possible solutions, I contacted my co-founders Bharat Thanvi and Punit Java to start Freightwalla. It is an intelligent digital freight forwarder that provides instant quotations for ocean freight, real-time tracking, and digital solutions,” Sanjay says.
Bharat has been in the import-export industry for around 15 years, and has expertise in freight forwarding and marketing. Punit is a technology expert who has previously worked for companies like Amazon and Microsoft. He had been importing coffee for a side venture for a while and had identified the bottlenecks in freight forwarding and methods of leveraging technology to simplify traditional processes.
Speaking on how the platform works, Sanjay says, “We simplify the entire process of freight forwarding while providing customer the powers of transparency, flexibility, and, above all, efficiency. It is a smart logistics management platform that simplifies and manages shipping processes while providing the customer a reliable tech-driven process to manage their freight.”
The challenges in the market
The biggest challenge in scaling is the hesitancy of decision-makers to switch from traditional processes to digitalisation-enabled ones. The existing system, however clunky and error-prone it may be, has been firmly established in the industry over the past 150 years and decision-makers often baulk at the thought of change.
“Overcoming these challenges was not easy in an industry resistant to change. And yet, all it takes is for our clients to experience the simplicity and ease of our process for them to become repeat clients. Amazingly, we have a 95 percent retention rate from clients who are willing to adopt the Freightwalla process,” Sanjay explains.
The platform follows a transactional revenue model, with the startup charging a fixed service fee for every shipment moved. The platform offers multiple carrier options at the click of a button, complete cost bifurcation, including ocean freight, port, and documentation charges, and real-time tracking of the cargo.
Freightwalla’s advanced matching algorithm can evaluate hundreds of route options and find the best ones for clients. The startup’s tech-enabled dashboard offers:
Instant quotations: The platform carries out rigorous shortlisting and displays a list of the best-suited service providers for the customer’s requirements.
Identification of problem shipments: With the help of GPS-enabled tracking, customers are immediately notified of any anomalies or delays in transit. Real-time alerts ensure that necessary steps can be taken in time.
Real-time tracking: The platform automatically tracks cargo across transportation, customs, and freight, and alerts customers with updates, changes in shipping plans, and key shipment milestones.
Deeper insights: The client get reports on shipment performance, freight expenditure, country-wise break-ups, etc, helping them understand where and how to improve their processes by leveraging the power of data and technology.
The platform also provides real-time tracking of the cargo and online tools for easy creation and management of import-export documents.
Founded in May 2016, in Mumbai, Freightwalla claims to have grown over 500 percent in terms of volumes handled and registered close to 400 percent increase in the number of clients in the last year alone.
“Today, Freightwalla helps more than 500 businesses streamline their logistics operations with the help of its advanced tech-enabled platform,” Sanjay says.
The market and future
Freightwalla received seed funding in November 2018 from venture capital firms Kae Capital and Tekton Ventures.
The logistics sector, despite the presence of several tech players across the segments of B2B and B2C last-mile operations, including Locus, LetsTransport, LoadShare, Blowhorn, Rivigo, and BlackBuck, is still a largely unorganised one.
India also ranks 35th in the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index, underscoring the low efficiency of logistics in the country, compared to that in others.
In the near future, Freightwalla plans to expand its client base over more diverse geographies. Sanjay shares that the startup’s engineering team is working on features that will drastically improve clients’ experience of international logistics.
“Specifically, we are looking to expand our scope of work to include air freight and warehousing services as well, all delivered through our tech solution. The ultimate goal is to become a tech-enabled integrated service provider that caters to each and every shipping requirement of an importer/exporter,” Sanjay says.
(Edited by Athirupa Geetha Manichandar)